ProductHunt Ottawa honours season's best

PopKey, Wipebook and Gymtrack were the big winners at ProductHunt Ottawa’s season-ending awards last Friday night.

PopKey won the Best New Product of 2015 award at a party held at KPMG’s office on Elgin Street. PopKey had been the No. 1 GIF app on the ProductHunt website for nine straight months, according to ProductHunt Ottawa’s Solon Angel.

“It’s more than what people imagine and it’s very promising,” he said.

Wipebook won Most Successful Product Launch for its reusable notebook. The brainchild of Ottawa entrepreneurs Frank Bouchard and Toby Maurice, Wipebook has landed investment from Arlene Dickinson of CBC’s Dragon’s Den and is set to be sold at Staples and Walmart.

“We were observing the day they launched and they basically were breaking all records and they were taken down (from the ProductHunt website) because people thought they were spam,” Mr. Angel said.

Gymtrack won the Most Industry Disrupting Award, something Mr. Angel said should surprise no one.

“What they do is just phenomenal,” he said of the company’s technology that helps people keep track of their workouts.

ProductHunt, which was founded by Ryan Hoover in San Francisco, began as a mailing list of the best new upcoming products from people in his network. It evolved into a website that has attracted a “fanatic community,” Mr. Angel said, and itself was recognized with the Startup of the Year Award at the 2014 Crunchie Awards, presented by TechCrunch and Venture Beat.

ProductHunt is all about exposure and feedback, he said, with the community voting on the projects that are launched there. It’s also all very positive, he added.

“You even see competitors wishing each other good luck in the marketplace without getting nasty to each other,” said the Parisian entrepreneur, who is now based in Ottawa.

Mr. Angel is CEO of Squanto, a startup committed to applying deep learning and artificial intelligence to the world of enterprise risk management. Incorporated just a few months ago, Squanto has a staff of seven working out of Invest Ottawa’s headquarters.

Mr. Angel said he discovered ProductHunt while talking to a Silicon Valley investor and decided it was a great way to bring exposure to the Ottawa tech community.

“There’s no better way than tying it up to that platform,” he said.

With Mr. Hoover being a “friend of a friend of a friend,” Mr. Angel quickly contacted the founding team in San Francisco, who guided him on how to start an Ottawa chapter. Brandon Waselnuk of Tattoo Hero, a 2015 OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient, is a co-organizer, along with Karl Clement, head of API Relations at Workshopx.

Over the last year, ProductHunt Ottawa has hosted events every six to eight weeks at different locations around the city where entrepreneurs can present their latest products. The meetings have really taken off, Mr. Angel said.

“We went from 30 to 60, 80, 100, 120, and then after that we had to cap the maximum attendants because we ran out of space every time,” he said.

Invest Ottawa and Kanata-based law firm Labarge Weinstein were early sponsors of the events, which have attracted members from FreshFounders, a club of entrepreneurs  including the likes of Shopify’s Tobias Lutke and Harley Finkelstein and Aydin Mirzaee of Fluidware by SurveyMonkey – “later-stage successful guys that are there just to give back advice to others,” Mr. Angel said.

While the event Friday marked the end of ProductHunt’s first season in Ottawa, Mr. Angel said another season will begin in September. He is encouraging anyone with a product to launch to sign up to join the community.